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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2000 Aug;183(2 Suppl):S76-83.

Early surgical abortion: an alternative to and backup for medical abortion.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, New York University School of Medicine, New York, NY, USA.


Surgical abortion by vacuum aspiration is one of the most commonly reported surgical procedures in the United States. The developments of highly sensitive urinary pregnancy tests and transvaginal ultrasonography have encouraged the application of surgical abortion methods at earlier gestational ages. Manual vacuum aspiration with a handheld syringe safely accomplishes early abortion in a variety of settings, from elective abortion in the office or clinic setting to emergency care of a patient with an incomplete abortion. As a wider range of clinicians expresses interest in offering medical abortion, the appropriate use and technique of surgical backup are crucial in safely providing medical abortion. This article reviews vacuum aspiration during the first few weeks of pregnancy, with special attention to manual vacuum aspiration, both for elective surgical abortion and when intervention is required after medical abortion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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